PLDC Debate On Fire

Uproar over the Hawaii Public Land Development Corporation isn’t dying down. 

David Kimo Frankel, an attorney with the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, sent an angry email to Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz, with the subject line: Your Dishonest Statements About the PLDC. 

He laid out a litany of reasons why, contrary to the administration’s claims, the PLDC was exempt from environmental laws. He writes, “Stop lying to the public!”

Choon James, posted the email in the comments section of Civil Beat’s story on the PLDC: Hawaii Lawmakers Vow to Clamp Down on Public Land Corp

Frankel’s email: 

From: David Kimo Frankel
Date: Wed, Sep 12, 2012 at 1:58 PM
Subject: Your Dishonest Statements about the PLDC
To: Donalyn.DelaCruz@hawaii.gov

I am outraged at your misleading – and frankly, dishonest – statements about the PLDC. 

[You wrote in a press statement from the Administration:] 

"Do PLDC projects need to adhere to existing environmental, historic and 

other federal, state or county laws? 

Yes. The PLDC and project partners must adhere to federal and state 

environmental and historic preservation laws, wage and hour laws, and 

other relevant laws.” 

Clearly, you and the administration do not understand environmental law. 

* According to no less authority than the Hawai`i Supreme Court, HRS chapter 205, the State Land Use Law is a “law relating to environmental quality.” County of Hawai’i v. Ala Loop Homeowners, 123 Hawai`i 391, 410, 235 P.3d 1102, 1122 (2010). HRS § 171C-19 provides that PLDC projects “shall be exempt from all statutes … relating to … land use.” Are you disputing that (a) the Land Use Law is an environmental preservation law, or (b) that HRS § 171C-19 does not exempt the PLDC from its requirements. Who is being dishonest?

By the way, the State Land Use Law has protected Pohue Bay, O`oma, Kealakekua and Wai`anae from inappropriate development. 

* According to no less authority than the Hawai`i Supreme Court, HRS chapter 205A, the State’s coastal zone management act, “is a comprehensive State regulatory scheme to protect the environment and resources of our shoreline areas.” Morgan v. Planning Dep’t, 104 Hawai`i 173, 181, 86 P.3d 982, 990 (2004). It also regulates land use. See HRS 205A-28. Are you disputing that (a) HRS 205A is an environmental law, or (b) that HRS § 171C-19 does not exempt the PLDC from its requirements. Who is being dishonest?

By the way, HRS 205A protected Pauoa Bay, Nā`ālehu and many other special places from inappropriate development.

* I’m not sure who in their right mind would question whether our conservation district law, HRS 183C is an environmental law. It has protected Wa`ahila Ridge, Pao`o, Honoli`i, ‘Ewa beach and many other special places. Are you saying that the PLDC is not exempt from this law? Why then has the PLDC refused to put such a provision in its draft rules even after such language was suggested to it?

* The PLDC is also exempt from all zoning requirements. The purpose of the City’s planning and zoning ordinances are “to prevent the deterioration of our environment.” Dalton v. City and County of Honolulu, 51 Haw. 400, 416, 462 P.2d 199, 208 (1969). But neither the law nor the proposed rules require compliance with county zoning laws.

* The PLDC is exempt from all subdivision ordinances and rules. Subdivision requirements also protect our environment. See e.g., Kaua`i County Code § 9-2.1 (“Subdivision shall be planned, designed and constructed to preserve the natural environment and science beauty of the County”), Honolulu Subdivision Rules and Regulations § 1-102(d) (“the purpose of these rules is to … preserve, enhance, and improve the anural amenities, qualities and environment of the community.”) and Hawai`i County Code § 23-26 (“Outstanding natural or cultural features such as scenic spots, water courses, fine groves of trees, heiaus, historical sites and structures shall be preserved as provided by the director.”)

Stop lying to the public!

(And by the way, any decent lawyer can tell you that the PLDC law is not equivalent to the HCDA’s – nor are the proposed rules.)

And please, feel free to forward this to your brother.

(Donalyn Dela Cruz is the sister of Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, who sponsored the legislation.)

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